Civil War Journal of Samuel Oliver Bereman, page 2
In the 4th Iowa Cavalry
January 11-March 25, 1863
Went out to Big Creek today with nearly all the Cav. that has been stationed here, and after building a bridge for them to cross on, our regt. came back to camp & the expedition went on out, Dont know where they are going. When we got back we found our camp moved down to the river a half mile below Helena (we have been camped about 3 miles out west of here). Nearly all the Infty. force left here also today. They went down the Miss. in boats & it is supposed they are going down to try to get Vicksburg again.
Snowed nearly all day and is very cold and windy tonight. I was detailed at dark to go out on picket guard, not a very pleasant job at all. Two of the co. arrived today from the Keokok Hospital where they have been sometime, they are looking very well.
Snow all went off today and mud is the prevailing element.
Another large fleet passed down the river today. They came from Memphis Tenn. It is Gen. Grants Army & it is said he is along with it. The river is rising very rapidly. Our camp is right on the river bank and its restless roar is continually in our ears.
Cav. force got in today. They went S.W. to White river but found it unfordable & so returned. We went out to Sick creek to build a bridge for them to cross on, and met them at the creek. By the way we have to bridge the streams in the vicinity every time we go out scouting, as they are generally distroyed as soon as we return to camp.
Moved our camp out to our old camping-place along the hills. We had to get out of the way of the Infty. who came from down river.
4th Our Co. on picket. Snowed all day & at night set in to raining, and freezing. What a dismal night to be out in. In the morning killed several rabbits. One of the boys "caught a Tarter" in the shape of an opossum. He did not catch it either, but bought it of a darkie who had, and who told him it would be good to eat. The soldier - who had never seen one before - brought home his prize and gave it to our Boy Jake to cook but Jake soon discovered that it was not eatable, as it had nine little ones hidden in its pockets! I have heard of people getting fooled by opossums before - but not just in that way. It was the first I ever saw.
Feb. 22nd Sunday
This is my 21st birthday! Bully for me. Its the first time I was ever 21 years old in my life! I used to look forward to this day as a sort of Jubilee but I dont see much difference between this and ang other day. But then I am a ''man of my own money now - that is - I would be if I had any money. We havent been paid off for six months, and consequently am "dead broke" "flat busted" &c.
The regt. was paid off today. Only drew two months pay, there are 4 months due us yet. We went out on a scout a few days ago. Didn't see much fun - only took in a few Johnny-Rebs.
Started out on a scout with three days rations. There are about 500 Cav. along under command of Major Walker of the 5th Kansas Cav. By the way said Major is one of the bravest & best officers we have in the Command. Camped about three miles beyond Marianna, at little town twenty miles from Helena, in a N.E. direction.
Rained nearly all night. Started on this morning when we soon came to a big swamp about ten miles wide. It was covered with water from one to three feet deep. Left several horses mired down in the mud. It is the awfulest road I ever saw. Nobody but Bonaparte or Major Walker would think of crossing at this time of the year.
Got back to camp this evening by a circuitous rout. Had several little skirmishes with the bushwhackers. Co. S. had one man killed and five captured. We killed two of the rebs would & captured five. Had to build a bridge across Sick creek again as the rebels had burned the last one we made.
Bougt a pr. of boots of Charlie Smith which he had sent from home, gave Seven dollars. Sent $30.00 home yesterday by W. Davis Suths of the Regt.
The Regt. received one hundred & fifty horses today which will help us a great deal as we had not enough to mount all our men.